Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Cost of Dying on 60 Minutes with Dr. Byock

60 MinutesImage via Wikipedia
60 Minutes lead story Sunday night was "The Cost of Dying" which discussed the often quoted Medicare spends XX billion on care for the last XX months of life.  (In this story they used $50B for the last 2 months, but there are many variations depending on the time specified as I am sure most of you have heard before.)  Featured in the story was Dr. Ira Byock and his team as they rounded on patients at the hospital.  They talked with some an accountant/economist and a public health researcher as well. 

I am impressed they captured some family meetings on tape as this is always a delicate dance even without cameras from the most popular weekly news magazine for the pat 30 years watching.  I thought Dr. Byock did a great job in the interview and he said some very tough and possibly unpopular things.  But just because these discussion might be unpopular they are very important.  Kudos to Dr. Byock for bringing up the issues he did.  We need to have a larger national discussion that lacks the partisan political hyperbole.  Basically our nation needs a family meeting.

The comments on the 60 Minutes website are at 233 as of this writing.  As always reading the comments can be the most enlightening part.

Something I found a little frustrating is the lack of the word 'palliative' in the piece.  There was not much discussion that asking for a palliative care consultation could help some people sort out their choices.  What a great platform for education that got missed. 

The transcript is here. Here is the video from 60 minutes below.

Be sure to check out the two short clips that were not shown on the show Sunday night.

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